Retain, Repair, Reinvest is a site-specific strategy developed by OFFICE for evaluating the refurbishment potential of existing public housing. At the core of this strategy is the retention of public housing with the commitment to ensuring housing as a basic human right. The approach has three key objectives:
- Retain existing communities by not relocating residents,
- Repair existing buildings to reduce carbon emissions,
- Reinvest savings to improve comfort and upgrade public housing.
This strategy has been developed in response to the Department of Health and Human Services approach to renewing public housing. The Public Housing Renewal Program follows a demolition, relocation and rebuild approach that is based on the rationale that refurbishment is not a viable option—despite no feasibility study being available to the public.
The objective of Retain, Repair, Reinvest is to demonstrate that it is both technically and economically feasible to retain the existing public housing, as well as providing great social benefit.
Retain, Repair, Reinvest is a site specific approach to refurbishment that addresses all of the criteria presented by the Department of Health and Human Services that justify estate demolition—including access, energy efficiency, dwelling types, liveability standards and financial investment.
The methods and approach from the Ascot Vale Estate case study can provide a potential framework for assessing other housing sites that are proposed for demolition as part of the PHRP.